This is a simple guide on how to reference in the Harvard style.
You can find two example essays I wrote that follow the Harvard referencing style here:
Let’s start at the start — why even bother using references? Besides the fact that you’ll fail your exams, referencing in academic writing is essential for various reasons.
Firstly, it showcases the research you have done during the preparation of your argument and acknowledges the work you have leveraged to build on your ideas.
Secondly, it just saves time! Imagine that every time you made a point, you had to prove it to an academic standard! Every 5,000-word essay would become a book. Instead, you can make point x and use a reference, proving that this point is valid or providing a critical analysis of why you believe it to be valid.
Finally, it acts as a forcing function to build discipline. Doing the research, organizing all your references, and reading source materials is hard and tedious. But, it does result in your ideas being more concrete and battle-tested.
References vs Citations.
Next thing — what’s the difference between a reference and a citation?
A reference is the list of sources you have used at the end of your essay, typically under the heading of “List of References.” and ordered alphabetically. It should be the very last thing in your essay. There is a specific format to follow based on the source type, which allows others to quickly find the specific information — more on this later.
Sometimes people use the word bibliography and reference list interchangeably, but this is incorrect.
Open Univerity (2022) notes that “a reference list only includes sources you have referred to in the body of your text” while “bibliography includes sources you have referred to in the body of your text AND sources that were part of your background reading that you did not use in your assignment.”
A citation is something that you use within your text, to showcase that this specific idea or point that you are making is backed up. I’ll get into the specifics of citations later, but this is typically done by using the author’s last name (s) and the date of publication. For instance, if you wanted to use me as a source, the citation would look like: Faja (2022) or (Faja, 2022), depending on the specific context.
There are different versions of the Harvard referencing style, and I will cover the Cite Them Right version.
So this is relatively straightforward, but there are various rules depending on the type and number of authors.
There are only two ways to cite.
The first is using the author(s) names and then the year of publication as per the following example:
Faja (2022) has argued that referencing is essential due to various factors.
This can also be used for direct quotations such as:
Faja (2022) states, “Sometimes people use the word bibliography and reference list interchangeably, but this is incorrect.”
The second type is where you put the author’s name and year of publication in brackets, separated by a comma. (Faja, 2022).
Handling multiple authors.
If there is more than one author, follow the style below.
1 author: Faja (2022) or (Faja, 2022)
2 authors: Faja and Holm (2022) or (Faja and Holm, 2022)
3 authors: Faja, Holm, and Smith (2022) or (Faja, Holm, and Smith, 2022)
If there are more than three authors, you take the first author and then add “et al”, which is an abbreviation of the Latin term “et alia,” which means “and others.”
So that would look like this:
Faja et al. (2022) or (Faja et al., 2022)
Citing sources without authors.
If there is no specific author, but it is just an organization, you can use the organization name:
The Open University, 2015 or (The Open University, 2015).
You can use the resource title in Italics if there is no author. But you may want to ask yourself if this is then a good source to use.
Harvard Referencing Guide (2022) or (Harvard Referencing Guide., 2022)
Handling page numbers.
You always want to mention page numbers in your source where possible. This showcases specificity and also helps anyone who wants to look at the source materials more easily find the data to back up your point. Handle it like this:
p. 27 for single pages.
pp. 45-65 for multiple pages.
This goes after the publication year with a comma.
Faja (2022, p.27) states, “Sometimes people use the word bibliography and reference list interchangeably, but this is incorrect.”
Faja (2022, pp. 45-65) has argued that referencing is essential due to various factors.
Sometimes you read a source that itself quotes another third source which you cannot access. You can still use that third source in your text in the following manner:
Faja (2011, quoted in Holmes, 2022) states, “Sometimes people use the word bibliography and reference list interchangeably, but this is incorrect.”
Use ‘quoted in’ if directly quoting and ‘cited in’ if summarising from a source.
When you provide a reference for this citation, you should only reference the source you read. In my example, this would be Holmes, not Faja.
Handling same author and same year.
Sometimes, you may have an issue using two sources by the same author, published in the same year. This is especially common if you use third-party websites for key statistics like Statista. You may find you have half a dozen references to different Statista pages with statistics.
But, if there was no differentiation, all the citations would read Statista (2022) or (Statista, 2022) — and readers would have no idea which reference matches which citation!
The way around this is by adding letters after the year in the citations and references.
So this would look like this:
The first use would use “a”: Statista (2022a) or (Statista, 2022a)
The second use would use “b”: Statista (2022b) or (Statista, 2022b).
And so on.
And you make sure that your references match the letters accordingly.
I have no idea what happens if you run out of letters using more than 26 references from the same author in the same year, but that probably doesn’t happen very often!
Handling long quotations.
The rule is quite simple:
If the quotation comprises 30 or more words, display it in an indented, freestanding block of text (set in a smaller type) without quotation marks. At the end of a block quotation, cite the quoted source and the page number in parentheses after the final punctuation mark. (The University of Queensland Australia, 2022)
How to Reference.
So depending on the source type (i.e. a book, online resource, journal article), there is a slightly different format. One thing to note is that the italics vary depending on the source type.
The other thing to note is that the way you list the author names in references differs from citations. In citations, you only use the author’s last name. In references, you use their last name and the initials of their first name.
Faja (2022) in a citation
Faja, E. (2022) in a reference.
Here are the common source types:
- Journal articles
- Chapter in an edited book
- University module websites
- Web Pages
- Newspaper articles
Let’s review these one by one and see how we reference these correctly.
Journal articles follow this format.
Surname, Initial. (Year of publication) ‘Title of article’, Title of Journal, volume number (issue number), page reference. If accessed online: Available at: DOI or URL (if required) (Accessed: date).
Verville, J., Bernadas, C. and Halingten, A. (2005). ‘So you’re thinking of buying an ERP? Ten critical factors for successful acquisitions.’, Journal of Enterprise Information Management, 18(6), pp. 665–677.
Note that DOI stands for Digital Object Identifier and is a unique string of numbers, letters, and symbols that uniquely identifies an article or document and links it to a permanent web address. It is not typically an absolute requirement to put the DOI in your references.
Books follow this format.
Surname, Initial. (Year of publication) Title. Edition if later than first. Place of publication: publisher. Series and volume number if relevant.
Collins, J. (2001). Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap … and Others Don’t. London: Random House.
Chapters in an edited book follow this format.
This is used for books that are a collection of chapters written by different authors.
Surname of chapter author, Initial. (Year of publication) ‘Title of chapter or section’, in Initial. Surname of book editor, (ed.) Title of book. Place of publication: publisher, Page reference.
Franklin, A.W. (2012) ‘Management of the problem’, in S.M. Smith (ed.) The maltreatment of children. Lancaster: MTP, pp. 83–95.
University Module websites follow this format.
This is for anything that is hosted on university platforms for degree modules.
Surname, Initial. (Year of publication/presentation) ‘Title of item’. Module code: Module title. Available at: URL of VLE (Accessed: date).
Peake, S. and Hearne, R. (2019) ‘Session 3 Exposure’. TG089: Digital photography: creating and sharing better images. Available at: https://learn2.open.ac.uk/mod/oucontent/view.php?id=1425928 (Accessed: 19 March 2019).
If there is no specific author, use the name of the university.
The Open University (Year of publication/presentation) ‘Title of item’. Module code: Module title. Available at: URL of VLE (Accessed: date).
The Open University (2017) ‘3.1 The purposes of childhood and youth research’. EK313: Issues in research with children and young people. Available at: https://learn2.open.ac.uk/mod/oucontent/view.php?id=1019389§ion=1.3 (Accessed: 7 March 2018).
You can also use this to reference video and audio materials in your modules:
The Open University (2022) ‘Video 2.7 An example of a Frith-Happé animation’. SK298: Brain, mind and mental health. Available at: https://learn2.open.ac.uk/mod/oucontent/view.php?id=2013014§ion=4.9.6 (Accessed: 22 November 2022).
The Open University (2022) ‘Audio 2 Interview with Richard Sorabji (Part 2)’. A113: Revolutions. Available at: https://learn2.open.ac.uk/mod/oucontent/view.php?id=1960941§ion=5.6 (Accessed: 22 November 2022).
Do note that if your module references some other sources, either reference that source directly if you can access it, or use the secondary citation/reference rule.
Web Pages follow this format.
Surname, Initial. (Year that the site was published/last updated) Title of web page. Available at: URL (Accessed: date).
Fritts, J. (2020). How Many Sales Tax Jurisdictions Does Your State Have? Available at: https://taxfoundation.org/state-sales-tax-jurisdictions-in-the-us-2020/ (Accessed: 17th October 2022)
If there is no author:
Organisation (Year that the page was last updated) Title of web page. Available at: URL (Accessed: date).
The British Psychological Society (2018) Code of Ethics and Conduct. Available at: https://www.bps.org.uk/news-and-policy/bps-code-ethics-and-conduct (Accessed: 22 March 2019).
Newspaper articles follow this format.
Surname, Initial. (Year of publication) ‘Title of article’, Title of Newspaper, Day and month, Page reference.
Mansell, W. and Bloom, A. (2012) ‘£10,000 carrot to tempt physics experts’, The Guardian, 20 June, p. 5.
If the article is available online:
Surname, Initial. (Year of publication) ‘Title of article’, Title of Newspaper, Day and month, Page reference if available. Available at: URL (Accessed: date).
Roberts, D. and Ackerman, S. (2013) ‘US draft resolution allows Obama 90 days for military action against Syria’, The Guardian, 4 September. Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/sep/04/syria-strikes-draft-resolut… (Accessed: 9 September 2015).
So that’s it. It should be a relatively straightforward guide that you can return to whenever you’re unsure. I’ll add to this in the future if I gather additional details, but so far, it has served me well in my studies.
List of References.
The Open University. (2022). Quick guide to Harvard referencing (Cite Them Right). Available at: https://www.open.ac.uk/library/referencing-and-plagiarism/quick-guide-to-harvard-referencing-cite-them-right (Accessed: December 1st, 2022)
The University of Queensland Australia. (2022). Direct quotations – UQ Harvard referencing style – Library Guides at University of Queensland Library. Available at: https://guides.library.uq.edu.au/referencing/uqharvard/direct-quotations (Accessed: December 1st, 2022)